How queerness and radical politics intersected–earlier than you thought.
Well before Stonewall, a broad cross section of sexual dissidents took advantage of their space on the margins of American society to throw themselves into leftist campaigns. Sensitive already to sexual marginalization, they also saw how class inequality was exacerbated by the Great Depression, witnessing the terrible bread lines and bread riots of the era. They participated in radical labor organizing, sympathized like many with the early prewar Soviet Union, contributed to the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, opposed US police and state harassment, fought racial discrimination, and aligned themselves with the dispossessed. Whether they were themselves straight, gay, or otherwise queer, they brought sexual dissidence and radicalism into conversation at the height of the Left’s influence on American culture.
Combining rich archival research with inventive analysis of art and literature, Love’s Next Meeting explores the relationship between homosexuality and the Left in American culture between 1920 and 1960. Aaron S. Lecklider uncovers a lively cast of individuals and dynamic expressive works, revealing remarkably progressive engagement with homosexuality among radicals, workers, and the poor. Leftists connected sexual dissidence with radical gender politics, antiracism, and challenges to censorship and obscenity laws through the 1920s and 1930s. In the process, a wide array of activists, organizers, artists, and writers laid the foundation for a radical movement through which homosexual lives and experiences were given shape and new political identities were forged. Love’s Next Meeting cuts to the heart of some of the biggest questions in American history: questions about socialism, about sexuality, about the supposed clash still making headlines today between leftist politics and identity politics. What emerges is a dramatic, sexually vibrant story of the shared struggles for liberation across the twentieth century.